Is your business ready for Canada’s New Anti-spam law?

As an individual, the sound of a new law set up to protect you from spam and other electronic threats is a welcome one. Who doesn’t want protection from online threats on their electronic devices, the ability to better recognize spam, and the ability to even be able to avoid spam on mobile as well? Thanks to an upcoming law called the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, individuals living in Canada will now be able to be better protected against spam.

While this new anti-spam legislation is being set to go into effect on July 1, 2014, businesses and corporations need to begin working on ensuring that their policies and online dealings are compliant with this new law.

If your business performs any of the following actions in any way, then you should immediately begin preparing your policies to ensure that they are compliant with the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation:

  • Sends messages electronically to individuals either via email or through some other mode
  • Changes the destination of an electronic message a person sends
  • Or has computer programs that are installed by individuals

Understanding The Canadian Anti-Spam Law

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law is simply set out to better police the internet and ensure that individuals are kept safe from malicious attacks, personal information harvesting, and unwanted program installations. To ensure that your business is complying with the new Canadian Anti-Spam law, make sure that you thoroughly examine every interaction online with individuals and identify the areas where messages are being sent, information is being gathered, and/or programs are being installed.

Electronic Messages

If your business is sending out any commercial electronic messages that attempt to coerce the recipient to participate in an activity, then you need to ensure that this practice is compliant with the new law. Regardless of the fact that your message does, or does not, attempt to make any profit off of the action, consent must be obtained by the recipient prior to the message being sent.

After consent has been given by the recipient, the message being sent must also contain a clear option for individuals to decline any further participation in said messages. This ensures that a single consent does not allow a business to send hundreds of solicitations to an individual without giving them the option to withdraw that consent.

Program Downloads

Program downloads are a massive gateway to spyware and other malware on computers. Once installed, these programs can quickly take over a computer, or simply lurk in the background harvesting personal information without a person’s consent.

To protect individuals from businesses taking advantage people, and to better isolate malware, the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law has strict requirements set in place.

First off, a program can only be installed on a device after express consent has been given. This consent is only valid if:

  • The function of the program is clearly described
  • The program can be removed afterwards
  • There are clear instructions on how the consent can be withdrawn by the individual

A program needs to meet all of those requirements before obtaining express consent, however when there are updates, then consent does not need to be given after each update as long as there are no alterations into the original function of the program or how it interacts as new consent will need to be obtained.

Express Consent and Exceptions

Express Consent – Express consent is absolutely crucial to the new Canadian Anti-Spam law because it ensures that individuals are clearly notified what it is that they are receiving prior to getting it. Implicit consent and opt-out consent are no longer factors and a direct yes is absolutely necessary for business to obtain before sending messages and program installations.

Message Exceptions

  • Recipient was referred by someone
  • Warranty, safety, or security info needs to be sent regarding a product or service the person purchased
  • Information is sent to employee regarding their employment
  • Recipient requested a quote, estimate, or some other piece of information

Program Exceptions

  • Cookies, HTML, and Java Script are all considered something a user accepts based on their actions on the site already

Who Enforces the Canadian Anti-Spam Law?

The Canadian Anti-Spam law is enforced by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission, or CASL. They not only investigate reports of violations, but they will legally pursue any business that violates the new Anti-Spam law legally and to the maximum extent possible for each individual violation.

What Happens If a Business Does Not Comply?

Non-compliance with the Canadian Anti-Spam law can result in huge monetary penalties along with many other injunctions, court offenses, and even negative publicity over the incident. The administrative monetary penalties of a violation set is up to $1 million for each violation if it is against an individual, or up to $10 million if the violation was against a business or corporation.

Since many businesses work on a larger scale with many customers and interactions, the amount of violations can easily be in the hundreds or even thousands. Once the CASL begins investigating a report of a violation, they can then obtain a warrant to search further if enough evidence is present.

If that search turns up more violations, a business can easily face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines thanks to this new Canadian Anti-Spam law that is set to go into effect in July. Fortunately, the hefty fine along with public shaming for each violation should be enough to spur any business into immediate compliance before this new law takes effect in early July.

Conclusion

Overall, the new anti-spam law puts more restrictions on businesses and how they interact with customers. Opt-out consent is no longer going to be acceptable which means that thousands of businesses need to begin altering their practices to make them compliant. A golden rule for this new law and compliance with it is:

If there is no exception for consent as previously stated in the law, then express consent must be obtained prior to any messages, downloads, or data transfer alterations.

Need help in preparing your business for CASL before July 1st, 2014?

To protect your business from being in harm’s way of this law, complete the form on this page to have a complimentary discussion with one of our certified CASL consultants

 

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